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A River Rather Than a Road

The Community Choir as Spiritual Experience


Sarah Morgan and June Boyce-Tillman

This book is an auto-ethnographic account of the development of a charismatic community choir leader. It brings together management literature and a survey of the community choir scene with the development of community choir leadership. It provides a useful introduction to the sustaining of community choirs, including the use of English folksong
material in this context. Some useful arrangements of folk songs are included. Community singing events are described with helpful advice on setting up and managing these. It presents a useful model of the range of skills necessary for aspiring community choir leaders. This is linked with the formation of a community that contains spiritual elements; this is theorized in relation to the role of the parish church in communal singing. It also discusses the two aesthetics of choral singing and the relationship between oral and literate traditions. The book arises from the engagement of the University of Winchester in partnership with the local community, which is theorized.
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2 The Community Choir Movement



In the first part this chapter, I give an overview of the community choir movement. I attempt to define the term ‘community choir’ or at least to narrow its descriptive field, and locate it as far as possible in a historical context while making links with other forms of community music-making in song. While exploring the breadth and diversity of community choirs, their culture and repertoire, I introduce questions about the place of English folk songs as source material for this type of choir.

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